“Biblical Exegesis between the Poles of Description and Interpretation”

Via Christoph Heilig

Yesterday, our small interdisciplinary research group “Biblical Exegesis between the Poles of Description and Interpretation” (supported by a grant of the UZH Graduate Campus that was raised by Theresa Heilig and her co-applicants Andreas Mauz and Christoph Heilig) met for the last time this semester. The group explores how the praxis of exegesis relates to the distinction between descriptive and interpretive operations, which is common in the study of literature but has been almost completely neglected among biblical scholars.

This results not only in category mistakes that could have been avoided with more awareness of the scholarship that is done on this matter but also in an enormous heuristic deprivation. While we will continue to work on this issue after the summer break, it has already become clear during the previous meetings just how much the field of biblical studies would profit immensely from paying more attention to the differences between these two categories.

In particular, we’ve identified (1) the didactic confusion in the teaching of exegesis (many students express frustration when they have to write exegetical essays because they know quite a few “methodological steps” they are supposed to take but don’t know where and how these steps are supposed to lead them) and (2) the manifold aspects that are characteristic of the current crisis of the genre of the biblical commentary as areas where a stronger theoretical, methodological, and practological reflection among biblical scholars promises to be immensely fruitful.